Experimenting with Structures

In preparation for this project, I have read “Three Dimensional Embroidery” by Janet Edmonds (Batsford, 2007). Although the remit of the book extends well beyond weaving, it was a good way to contextualise what we are working towards and how self-supporting two-dimensional structures can be incorporated into a larger piece.

For exercise 3, I was inspired to work from some sketch work I have been doing based on the coast of Portland. This wall is fascinating and full of interesting colours and textures that make me want to keep returning and recording it.

This sketch is based on this photograph, with the pink and violet hues exaggerated to compliment the oranges.

I wanted to portray the lumpy fluid quality of the rock formations as well as the colours of the sketch. I started by lashing some trimmed wooden skewers into a triangle. I chose a triangle for it’s stability, and I thought it would allow quite haphazard taut wrapping without slippage. I intially wrapped the frame in a single brown sock weight yarn, weaving it into itself in places. The idea was that this would be visible in places and portray the cracks in the rocks. I then used some yarns I spun specifically for this piece, and wove them vertically through the mesh, allowing the ends to hang loosly like stalactites. I wanted these ends to be roughly shorter at each side and longer in the middle to mirror the frame shape above. The eyelash acrylic yarn was used to accent the rough, irregular quality of the rock as well as the tendency for plants to grow from between the cracks. Some areas were left open to balance the overstuffed tight areas, and allow the yarn to stand out against the negative space. I am really pleased with how this has turned out, and for me does everything I wanted it to. My only reservation is the effect of the protruding skewer ends, and wonder if there is anything different that I could have done with them without distracting attention from the centre. One idea I had would be a mounting board cut into a hollow triangle mounted over the top with the loose threads sitting over it.

At this point I got a bit distracted and made some felt by weaving the unspun fleece and wet felting it. This could be further developed by cutting on the diagonal into strips for weaving with other materials and yarns. I like the idea of repeating this process, felting and refelting trapped cut strips in varying woven patterns.

I started exercise 4 by lashing together a number of trimmed wooden skewers into a 3×3 grid. The meeting points were lashed together with yarn, and a supporting diagonal skewer added at the back to keep the piece square. It was quite a challenge to weave as the knots had a tendency to slip, distorting the shape of the frame. I stuck to a fairly narrow colour palette and concentrated on juxtaposing different materials and yarns both in gauge and composition. The piece was not planned but I kept adding to it intuitively untill I felt the balance of space and fill was right. I like the ties at the edges almost as much as the weaving with in it, and feel the strips of fabric appear to hold the piece in tension. Again, I am not completely sure about the aesthetics of the wood, and it would be better painted or wrapped so that it didn’t stand out quite so much from the yarns and fabric.

With this problem in mind, I went on to construct a frame using homemade paper beads. I cut strips from an old medical textbook, and wrapped them around a skewer with pritt stick and the ends. I then threaded them together with cotton, and wire was threaded around  the edge beads to make a more solid square. This then became quite a conceptual piece as the wording was very prominent and evocative on the beads.

I wanted to portray blood and bandages, but also enjoyed the contrast of shiny silk blend yarn against the dulled pages of the book. I felt the ivory torn silk fabric complemented the paper, and really liked the resulting tufts of thread from tearing the fabric. A torn red polyester satin and acrylic ivory yearn balanced the piece.

This detail photo shows some of the text and how it interacts with the weaving.

This was an extension of the idea, thinking about how a frame could be contructed, and I wanted to try something different in the middle. The frame was made with quite heavy brass jewellery wire, twisted in to a circle and shaped into a square with looped corners. The frame was then wrapped with novelty yarn, and the middle randomly wrapped and woven with an upholstery self patterning overlocking thread. I then experimented free machining in a metallic toning thread over the top to pull the woven threads and distort them across the piece. It worked very well with interesting results that I would like to use again.

I continued working with wire, and was interested in the idea of a structure within a structure. I made this piece with fine red jewellery wires and a red leather thong. To me it looks like some of the loose cellular structures I have studied in medicine, and love the contrast in densely woven versus loosely spaced fine wire, and the fine gauge wire against the slightly thicker leather.


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